click to show more information

click to hide/show information About this Show

U.S. Senate

News/Business.

NETWORK

DURATION
05:00:01

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 17 (141 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Syria 35, Ms. Mikulski 19, Cornyn 15, America 15, Heller 14, Texas 13, Feinstein 12, California 11, United States 11, Assad 11, Pennsylvania 10, Madam 9, U.s. 8, Maryland 7, Bosnia 7, Mr. Toomey 7, Clinton 7, Mr. Whitehouse 6, Schumer 6, Washington 6,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    March 14, 2013
    12:00 - 4:59pm EDT  

12:00pm
vote: the presiding officer: on this vote, the yeas are 54, the nays are 45. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the
12:01pm
amendment is not agreed to. under the previous order, the question occurs on amendment number 66 offered by the senator from oklahoma, mr. coburn. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
12:02pm
12:03pm
12:04pm
12:05pm
12:06pm
12:07pm
12:08pm
12:09pm
12:10pm
12:11pm
12:12pm
12:13pm
12:14pm
12:15pm
vote:
12:16pm
12:17pm
12:18pm
12:19pm
12:20pm
12:21pm
12:22pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 45, the nays are 54. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to.
12:23pm
ms. mikulski: move to reconsider. mr. mccain: move to lay on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to speak up to two minutes and after my remarks the senior senator from arizona be recognized. the presiding officer: is there objection? is there objection to the modified request? without objection. mr. brown: madam president, thank you. i want to not yet call up, i've been working with chairwoman mikulski on this until they get an agreement but i'll just discuss for a moment amendment 83 i'm cosponsoring with senator isakson of georgia. it really does help us restore as chairmanwoman mikulski has been working towards, regular order in this chamber. this is an amendment having to do with some chang dealing -- language dealing with a private
12:24pm
project and customs and privatization that senator landrieu has supported. i've spoken with senator landrieu about this issue. we need to talk through some other things but if we're going to do regular order the way we need to this language should come in front of the finance committee on which senator isakson and i sit to begin to work these issues out. i in no way -- i just think we shouldn't succumb to the temptation to legislate through appropriations. i will later ask my colleagues to support amendment 83 sponsored by senator isakson and me. i appreciate the forbearance of senator mccain. thank you, madam president. mr. mccain: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: madam president, i want to thank the chairperson, chairwoman, senator mikulski, for her allowing me to speak as if in morning business. on march 15, one 2001,
12:25pm
thousands of syrian men, women and children in the city of dara gathered in a public square known today as dignity square. they came together so -- to peacefully protest against a syrian regime's decision to arrest and torture a group of 15 teenagers whose crime had been exercising their universally recognized rights to free speech. their crime was speaking truth to those in power in syria. they'd sketched on the wall of their school a statement that remains true in syria today. the words were "the people want the regime to fall." since these peaceful calls for change were first heard in syria, two years ago, more than 70,000 men, women and children have been massacred by the assad regime. more than one million refugees have fled their country at a rate of 8,000 people each day,
12:26pm
as of last month. and 2.5 million people have been displaced within their country. only the genocide in rwanda and the first iraq war have driven more people to refugee status over a similar period of time. these facts and figures are startling. behind each statistic are profound human tragedies that we cannot grow numb to as the conflict in syria presses on into a third year. i certainly cannot. last april, senator joe lieberman and i visited a syrian refugee damp in southern the turkey and earlier this year i traveled together with senators whitehouse, ayotte, blumenthal, and coons to visit tari refugee camp in jordan. i've seen my share of suffering and death, but the horror i saw in those camps and the stories i heard still haunt me today. men who had lost all their
12:27pm
children, women and girls who had been gang raped, children who had been tortured, and none of this, mind you, was the random acts of cruelty that, sadly, occur in war. syrian army defectors told us that killing and rape and torture was what they were instructed to do as a tactic of terror and intimidation. so if i get a little emotional, when i talk about syria, this is why. the cost both strategic and humanitarian of this conflict have been and will continue to be devastating. i note that earlier this week unicef released a report detailing the impact of syria's two-year conflict on the children of syria. the report states and i quote, "in syria, children have been exposed to grave human rights violations including killing and maiming, sexual violence,
12:28pm
torture, arbitrary detention, recruitment and iewtion by armed forces and groups and exposure to explosive remnants of war, as millions of children inside syria and across the region witness their past and their future disappear against the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict, the risk of them becoming a lost generation grows every day." the conflict in syria is breeding a lost generation. a whole new generation of extremists. earlier this year, i met a syrian teacher in the refugee camp in jordan who told me that the generation of young syrians growing up in these camps and inside syria will take revenge on those who did nothing to help them in their hour of greatest need. we should be ashamed of our collective failure to come to
12:29pm
the aid of the syrian people. but more than that, we should be deeply, deeply concerned, and as much as i want to disagree with that syrian teacher, but i'm haunted by the belief that she is exactly right. as a conflict in syria enters into its third year, we cannot lose sight of the clear trend toward escalation both in the nature and the quality of the killing. in recent months, the use of scud missiles against civilians fits into a pattern of forced escalation by the assad regime over the past year. in january, 2012, the regime began to use artillery as syrian opposition forces became more capable against regime ground forces. in june, 2012, assad escalated his use of air power because the rebels were gaining control of the countryside. and today the regime is intensifying its air campaign by firing scud missiles at civilian
12:30pm
populations which has taken a deadly toll, particularly in the north where thousands of civilians have been killed over the past several weeks. the regime's escalation to scud missiles, which can be used as delivery vehicles for chemical weapons, should be alarming to us all. according to a recent report from the washington institute for near east policy, scud missiles can deliver a thousand-pound high-explosive warhead or a chemical agent. and, as the report states, the rebels have no means of knowing when the missiles have been fired, where they are going, what kinds of warheads are onboard. in fact, even with good intelligence collection, there is no reliable way to know which scuds have been uploaded with chemical warheads. let there be no doubt that the threat of chemical weapons is real. i note this morning's headline from the associated press -- and i quote -- "israel's military
12:31pm
intelligence chief says syria's assad readying to use chemical weapons." madam president, i ask unanimous consent that that article be included in the record from "the washington post." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: this is a dangerous and unfair fight and the cost t costs to the united s are significant. russia and iran are aassad's lifeline in this brutal fight. iran continues to use iraqi airspace to flight fighters and large quantities of weapons to syria to help assad with the killing. as many as 50,000 syrians, militiamen in syria are being supported by tehran and hezbollah, according to a "washington post" report. meanwhile, russia continues to ship heavy weapons to assad, including a senior obama administration officials have stated, the very helicopter gunships that the regime is currently using to bomb and shatter civilians.
12:32pm
as the united states and the international community stand idle, the consequences are clear -- syria will become a failed state in the heart of the middle east threatening both our ally, israel, and our nato ally, turkey. with or without assad, the country will continue to devolve into a full-scale civil war that is increasingly sectarian, repressive and unstable. meantime, more and more ungoverned space will come under the control of al qaeda and its allies. violence and radicalism will spill even more into lebanon and iraq, fueling sectarian conflicts that are still burning in both countries. syria will turn into a battlefield between sunni and shia extremists. even backed by foreign powers which will ignite sectarian tensions from north america to the gulf and risk a wider regional conflict. this is the course we are on in syria and in the absence of international action, the
12:33pm
situation will only get worse. although secretary kerry and other administration officials have said that our goal in syria is to -- quote -- "change assad's calculus and make room for a negotiated transition" the truth is, in the absence of a shift in the balance of military power on the ground, that is a hopeless goal. what the administration does not seem to realize is what president bill clinton came to understand in bosnia -- that a diplomatic resolution in conflict like these is not possible until the military balance of power changes on the ground. as long as a murderous dictator, be it slobodan milosevic or bashir al assad, believes is he winning on the battlefield, he has no incentive to stop fighting and negotiate. our european powers, led by the french and british, seem to
12:34pm
understand this clearly, which is why they are urgently working to persuade their allies to lift an embargo on supplying arms to the syrian opposition. they understand that only a change in military power will bring this conflict to an end. the same is true for the regime's foreign supporters. despite destroying russia's reputation in the arab world, the russian government is stuck with assad -- has stuck with assad for nearly two years now. what makes us think that president putin will change course now, when assad is still a dominant power on the ground? the syrian opposition needs our help to change the balance of power on the ground. i've had the honor of meeting one of the key leaders of the syrian opposition led by a named sheikh al katim, the president of the syrian national coalition. sheikh al katim and the national coalition are doing everything the international community asked of them. they've worked to bring together credible moderate members of the
12:35pm
syrian opposition. they're building institutions, both civilian and military. and while the united states and our partners deserve credit in helping and pushing them to do so, when the opposition coalition asks responsible nations for support, when they ask us to help them in coordinating the distribution of aid, governing the liberated areas and ultimately forming a transitional government, when they ask us for this assistance, what have we done for them? next to nothing. sheikh al katim and the other moderate leaders of the syrian opposition are struggling desperately to be relevant to their fellow syrians, who are fighting and dying every day inside the country. i believe most syrians do not support al qaeda, but many of us in the west are still mired in our own internal debates about whether to provide nonlethal assistance or whether to continue providing assistance through international n.g.o.'s, many of which, i would add, still function with the
12:36pm
permission of the assad regime and deliver most of their aid in damascus. the fight in syria is being won by extremists. al qaeda fighters are showing up in greater numbers in the liberated areas of syria with capable fighters and food and medicine and other aid. is it any wonder, then, that extremists are gaining ground in syria? it's this simple -- what's left of the moderate syrian opposition is in a race against time to survive the radicalization of this conflict, and right now the world is failing them. and the longer we fail them, the worse the outcome will be for us all. the time to act is long overdue but it's not too late. i know many wish to avoid this reality by telling themselves and others there's nothing we can do in syria, that our only options are to let the syrians fight it out alone to the bitter end, or to launch a massive and costly military intervention. but the truth is that there are
12:37pm
many option as that we have the capability to undertake that would save lives and protect our important strategic interests in syria. first, the fact that the opposition in syria is doing better militarily thanks to external support seems to validate what many of us have been arguing for months, that opposition forces have enough organization to be supportable and that our support can help them to further improve their organization and command and control. this is an argument for doing more, not less, to aid the rebel fighters in syria, including providing responsible members of the armed opposition who share our goals and our values with the arms they need to succeed. in a hearing of the senate armed services committee last month, i asked secretary of defense leon panetta and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, martin dempsey, whether they agreed with a proposal reportedly developed by former secretary of state hillary clinton and former c.i.a. director david petraeus last summer to have the united
12:38pm
states arm and train members of the syrian opposition. i was very pleased to hear both secretary panetta and chairman dempsey state that they supported this proposal which unfortunately was refused by the white house. what this means is that the president overruled the senior leaders of his own national security team who were in unanimous agreement that america needs to take greater action to change the military balance of power in syria. beyond providing arms to the opposition, we have other capabilities at our disposal that could make a decisive difference on the ground and save lives. i'll just give you two examples. nato has deployed patriot missiles batteries in turkey that are capable of shooting down syrian aircraft as far south as illepo. we could establish a limited no-fly zone using these systems, and, believe me, after the first few syrian aircraft are shot down, i doubt assad's pilots will be lining up to fly missions anymore.
12:39pm
another option would be just to destroy assad's aircraft on their runways with cruise missiles and other standoff weapons. either way, we can take syrian air power off the table. once defended, these safe havens could become platforms for increased deliveries of food and medicine, communications equipment, doctors to treat the wounded, and other nonlethal assistance. they could also serve as staging areas for armed opposition groups to receive battlefield intelligence, body armor and weapons from small arms and ammunition to antitank rockets, and to train and organize themselves more effectively, perhaps with foreign assistance. the goal would be to expand the reach of these safe havens across more of the country. with these actions immediately in the -- would these actions immediately end the conflict? no, but would they save lives in syria? would they give the moderate opposition a better chance to succeed and marginalize the radicals? would they help the west regain
12:40pm
the trust of the syrian people? and do we have the capability to make a difference? to me, the answer to all of these questions is clearly "yes." yes, there are risks to greater involvement in syria. the opposition is still struggling to get organized. al qaeda and the other extremists are working to hijack the revolution, and there are already reports of reprisal killings of alowittes. these risks are real and see, but the risks of continued -- of continuing to do nothing are worse. what is needed is american leadership. what is needed is a reminder of the words abraham lincoln spoke in his annual message to congress in 1862 -- "we, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility." and as we mark two years of this horrific conflict, if there were ever a case that should remind us of this responsibility, it is that of syria. a few months ago, "the
12:41pm
washington post" interviewed a young bosnian man who had survived the genocide at srebrenica in 1995. this is how he sees the ongoing slaughter in syria -- and i quote -- he said, "it's bizarre how 'never again' has come to men 'again and again' he said. it's obviously we live in a world where srebrenicas are still possible. what's happening in syria today is almost identical to what happened in bosnia two decades ago." he could not be more correct. the conflict in syria today is nearly indistinguishable from the bosnia -- from that in bosnia during the 1990's. as leon wiezelturse wrote earlier this week in "the new republic" -- it's a very important -- madam president, i ask the complete column be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i am finding
12:42pm
crushing parallels, a president who is satisfied to be a bystander and ornaments his prevaracations with high moral pronouncements and extreme american passiveity by international complexities and obscurities on the grouped and to ethnic and religious divisions too deep and too old to be modified by state craft. and two ominous warnings of anticipated consequences, as if consequences are ever all anticipated. an arms embargo against the people who require arms most, who are the victims of state power. the use of rape and torture and murder against civilians as open instruments of war. the universal knowledge of crimes against humanity and the failure of that knowledge to affect the policy making will, the dailiness of the atrocity, its unimpeded progress, the long
12:43pm
duration of our shame in doing nothing about it. the parallels are not perfect, of course. only 70,000 people have been killed in syria. so what's the rush?" we must ask ourselves how many more innocent people must die before we take action? amidst these crushing parallels, there is one key difference -- in bosnia, president clinton finally summoned the courage to lead the world to intervene and stop the killing. it's worth recalling his words upon ordering military action in bosnia in 1995 -- and i quote -- "there are times and places," president clinton said, "where our leadership can mean the difference between peace and w war. and where we can defend our fundamental values as a people and serve our most basic strategic interests. there are still times when america and america alone can
12:44pm
and should make the difference for peace." those were the words of a democratic president who led america to do the right thing in stopping mass atrocities in bosnia. and i remember working with my republican colleagues, senator bob dole, to support president clinton in that endeavor. the question for another democratic president today, and for all of us in a position of responsibility, is whether we will again answer the desperate pleas for rescue that are made uniquely to us as the united states of america. and whether we will use our great power, as we have done at our best, not simply to advance our own interests but to serve a just cause that is greater than our interests alone. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, may i take this opportunity to thank senator mccain for his
12:45pm
call to our consciences on the massacres in syria by the tyrant assad. i want to thank him for his reminder to us all that in the case of moral emergencies, those with the ability to act have the duty to act. and i want to thank him for his efforts to call us to that duty. and while he's here on the floor, i'd like to also take this chance to join in the warm remarks from colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this 45th anniversary of his release from captivity in north vietnam, a anniversary that could have come a good deal sooner had he not been so courageously stubborn in refusing to leave his comrades in captivity. madam president, may i ask
12:46pm
unanimous consent that the senate recess following my statement until 2:15 p.m., and that the first-degree amendment filing deadline be at 3:00 p.m. today. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: may i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. whitehouse: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. i rise today as i have at least two dozen times in the past year to say again that it is time for us to wake up to the stark reality of the climate changes that carbon pollution is causing.
12:47pm
elected officials bear a responsibility to every once in a while escape the grip of the polluting special interests and to act in the interests of regular americans. we need to wake up and start talking about the negative consequences, the harms of climate change. we need to wake up and mitigate, take steps to protect ourselves and adapt to the consequences that are already hitting our coasts and our forests, our cities and our farms, our economy and our way of life. but of course, the climate deaners and the polluters don't want that. the deaners want to prevent discussion -- the deniers want to prevent discussion of climate change altogether. in the past few years in this body, climate science has become
12:48pm
a taboo topic. i watched when my back was out in the last few days one of the harry potter movies on the television, and lord valdemort was called he who shall not be named in those harry potter stories. well, carbon pollution is the pollution which shall not be named. climate change, the harm that is caused by that pollution is the harm that shall not be named. the obstructionists want to squelch any discussion of the pollution which shall not be named. so as to let big polluters continue dumping carbon and other greenhouse gas into our oceans and atmosphere. take, for instance, the house select committee on energy independence and global warming
12:49pm
created in 2007 as a forum for confronting the economic and security challenges of our dependence on foreign fuels. when republicans took controlf the house of reprentatives in 2011, they disbanded that committee. end of discussion. between may, 2011, and december, 2012, our colleagues in the house of representatives, henry waxman and bobby rush, who were the democratic ranking members of the subcommittee on energy and commerce and of the subcommittee on energy and power, wrote 21 letters, 21 letters to chairman fred upton and ed whitfield requesting hearings on climate change. to date, there has been no response, no hearings. end of discussion. house republicans have tried to prevent the department of the
12:50pm
interior and the department of agriculture from funding their climate adaptation plans. commonsense efforts to preserve our resources, protect our farmers and save taxpayer dollars. but no, end of discussion. and i'm sad to say it's not just the house of representatives. in the senate, in the environment and public works committee, democrats have been informed that there will be opposition to any legislation that mentions climate change. now, it's one thing to want to oppose any legislation that does anything about climate change. this is a further step. the mere mention of climate change is enough to provoke republican opposition. end of discussion. the taboo is being applied elsewhere in this chamber.
12:51pm
just this week, a republican senator demanded that the following language be stricken from a noncontroversial senate resolution. we pass resolutions here in the senate all the time by unanimous consent. a republican senator said no, i'm going to withhold my consent. i'm going to deny the ability of the resolution unless this offending language is removed. what was the offending language? i will quote." women in developing countries are disproportionately affected by changes in climate because of their need to secure water, food and fuel for their livelihood scwsm this body unanimously -- livelihood." this body unanimously approved identical language in the last congress, but today that mention of climate change in an otherwise noncontroversial resolution draws automatic republican opposition. again, end of discussion.
12:52pm
and they are not just trying to squelch the legislative branch. in the executive branch, they have tried to defund salaries for white house climate advisors and withhold u.s. funds from the united nations intergovernmental panel on climate change. again, end of discussion. now, you might think that in these efforts to attack funding at least, they are motivated by a desire to cut spending, but then what will be the motivation behind house republicans blocking a no-cost restructuring of the national oceanic and atmospheric administration that would have created a national climate service that is akin to the national weather service, a simple reorganization that would have centralized information about climate change, information which is in high, high demand by state and local governments and by the business community. again, the purpose is obvious --
12:53pm
try to end the discussion. i would remind my colleagues who are trying to silence this discussion with political power that history teaches quite plainly that in contests between power and truth, truth always wins in the end. the inquisition tried silce galileo, but the enlightenment happened anyway and the earth does still spin around the sun. chris macantee, director of the american geophysical union, has said -- "limiting access to this kind of climate information won't make climate change go away." and and directors
12:54pm
of corporations should consider what will it mean for the corporations that use their power to express the truth once that truth becomes inescapable? once it is undeniable and the denial campaign is seen as a fraud. this republican policy of climate change denial is alive and well at the state level, too. in 2010, virginia attorney general ken cuccinelli used his powers of office to harass former university of virginia climatologist michael mann and 39 other climate scientists and staff. as a u.v.a. grad, i am proud
12:55pm
that the university fought back against this political attack on science and on academic freedom. said u.v.a., the attorney general's action and the potential threat of legal prosecution, of scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer-reviewed standards send a chilling message to scientists engaged in basic research involving earth's climate and indeed to scholars in any discipline. such actions directly threaten academic freedom and thus our ability to generate the knowledge upon which informed public policy relies. the victim of this harassment, professor mann, was more blunt. he called out this witch-hunt as -- quote -- "a coordinated assault against the scientific community by powerful vested interests wimply want to stick their heads in the sand and deny the problem of
12:56pm
human-caused climate change rather than engage in the good-faith debate about what to do about it." i with note that the virginia supreme court ruled attorney general cuccinelli's so-called investigation groundless, but that wasn't enough for obstructionists in virginia. last year, the republican virginia senate struck from a joint resolution titled "requesting the virginia institute of marine science to study strategies for adaptation to relative sea level rise in tidewater, virginia, localities." they struck from that title the phrase "sea level rise," both in the title and again in the text of the resolution. news outlets report -- get this -- that this was because sea level rise was believed to be -- quote -- "a left-wing
12:57pm
term." add sea level rise to the harms which shall not be named. in north carolina, you can still say sea level rise, but you can't predict it or plan for it. that's because last year, north carolina's republican-dominated legislature passed a bill requiring as a matter of law that north carolina coastal policy be based on historic rates of sea level rise rather than on what north carolina scientists actually preaddict. this means that even though north carolina scientists predict 39 inches of sea level rise within the century, north carolina by its own law is only allowed to prepare for eight.
12:58pm
king canute would be so proud. further down, the south carolina department of natural resources wrote a report more than a year ago on the risks climate change poses to the palmetto state, but it was never released to the public. the state newspaper managed to obtain a copy of that study. the report calls for south carolina to prepare for increases in wildlife disease, loss of prime hunting habitat and the invasion of nonnative species, but to republicans, these are more problems which shall not be named. in south dakota, the republican legislature in 2010 even passed a nonbinding resolution calling for teaching in public schools that relies on a number of common and thoroughly debunked
12:59pm
climate denier claims. in short, bringing climate denier propaganda into public high school science classes. who might be behind this concerted effort to make climate science and climate change taboo subjects? problems which shall not be named. well, look at alec, the conservative american legislative exchange council which pedals climate denier legislation and undermines local and national efforts to protect against climate change. look at alec's board of directors comprised of lobbyists from exxonmobil, peabody energy and coke industries. look at the array of bogus denial organizations propped up
1:00pm
to create doubt in this debate. against this tide of propaganda and nonsense stands states including rhode island which already cap and reduce carbon emissions. 19 states have climate adaptation plans completed or in progress. 31 states have a renewable and/or portfolio in progress. and immediate entitlement or lead standards. the obstructionists may be well funded by the polluting special interests, but the majority of the american people, the vast majority of the american people, understand that climate change is a very real problem. and they want their leaders to take action. americans want their leaders to
1:01pm
listen to the climate scientists. they want us to plan and to prepare, to limit, to mitigate, and to adapt to the changes that are coming. and here in congress, it is long past time to move forward with meaningful action. that is why i'm working with several colleagues to establish a fee on carbon pollution. as i said in my remarks last week, the idea is a simple one. it's basic market 101, law 101 and fairness 101, if you're creating a cost that somebody else has to bear, that cost should be put back into the price of the product. the big carbon polluters should pay a fee to the american people to cover the cost of their dumping their waste into our
1:02pm
oceans and air. it's a cost they now happily push off onto the rest of us, allowing them an unfair and improper market advantage, in effect to cheat against rival energy sources. mr. president, the deniers want to make this the problem which shall not be named, but i am here to name it. as are many others. and i'm here to shame them, if i can, if shame is a feeling a big corporation can even have. and i'm here to see to it that we wake up and that we get to work. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. i withdraw my notice. please proceed. the presiding officer: the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
1:03pm
1:04pm
1:05pm
as they want to give. and, so i yield to senator grassley if he has any and then we'll go right to the, senior senator from california, senior senator from texas and i know the senator from texas has amendments. as soon as we, go ahead, please. >> i won't speak anymore on the legislation that's before us unless senator feinstein forgot what i've said. >> she hasn't. >> you haven't? >> none of us have.
1:06pm
>> indelibly pressed. >> thank you. i think as long as i have the floor i will say what we normally say about what's on the agenda. we have the two nominees on the agenda. we have a request on our side to hold them over. so i won't have to repeat before that business up. in regard to the rest of the markup, just one sentence, well, maybe i will say a procedural thing because i know we have amendments on our side and even though i don't have anything to say on the bill further i hope we respect everybody's right to offer amendments. whoever on our side wants to do that, even beyond senator cornyn. the only thing that i want to say as i'm still amazed that after we've had two witnesses in two hearings from the justice department, we still have not received analysis from the department on the constitutionality of the legislation that we're
1:07pm
going to be seeking today. that's all i have to say. >> we have senator schumer has joined us. senator franken and senator -- [inaudible] senator grassley and senator cornyn. is there enough people to, that, senator grassley's request u.s. circuit judge for the 8th circuit be held over. we've held over ken gonzalez before, but senator grassley has asked me to again postpone it, al brady violation, u.s. attorney office looking into the matter further. i've looked at it. i'm prepared to move forward but because of the ranking member we'll hold over another week. >> i like to add to what you
1:08pm
said, with discussions from both senators from new mexico and i feel they understand what we're trying to get answers to and they, i, i think i have satisfied them for a while. and i don't think it is going to take very long. >> and, an attempt to hold it up for the saying of holding it up. i know you talked to the senators. i appreciate that. they both told me you did and i think following the normal commenting in this committee, i'm happy to hold over again. so, senator cornyn, you have an amendment? >> can i ask, senator lee has a statement that i would like to put in the record. >> of course. and and the record will be open for any statements and senator lee's statement would of course be made part of the record. senator cornyn? >> thank you, mr. chairman.
1:09pm
i know senator feinstein has fought for this legislation, is passionate about her belief in the need for this legislation and i respect her conviction although i must strongly oppose the bill. as i said last week gun violence is a tragic problem in the united states and it is our responsibility to address the problem on behalf of the american people. and we could do that right now with broad bipartisan support if we're willing to address the serious deficiencies in our mental health system. improve the background check database and do a better job, executive branch, of enforcing existing law. i'm encouraged, as i said, some like senator graham, and i know others on the committee who support legislation suggesting methods to patch the holes this background check system. i'm hopeful that the legislation senator schumer introduced and was voted out of committee which i couldn't support in its
1:10pm
present form but hope we can continue to work on that, and to improve it from my perspective but we simply need to patch the holes in the background check system that enable the mentally ill to buy guns. that's the type of legislation i think would have the greatest positive impact on gun violence in america. but instead we're considering a piece of legislation that jeopardizes the self-defense rights of law ai had booing citizens while doing nothing to address the real problems. in other words, our real concern should be that effort to enact this, our real concern should be efforts to enact this, ineffective gun band are distracting congress from solutions to stop the seriously mentally der ringed from -- deranged from buying guns, so i can not support it. at last week's markup i highlighted some of the serious concerns i had with senator feinstein's legislation. these measures were tried
1:11pm
before in 1994 and were found to be ineffect wall. the bill focuses on cosmetic features of certain fire articles rather than the perilous intersection of mental illness and guns the bill does nothing to deal with the lack of effective enforcement of current gun laws. we talked about the fact that people actually lie on background checks. there is almost zero chance of getting prosecuted by this department of justice. and i believe that the bill would infringe upon the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families. so i do have, let me just add, -- >> do you have an amendment you would like? >> i do. i will get to it shortly. but far from banning only what the bill defines as a assault weapons, this legislation would effectively ban a majority of the handguns in the united states by proi believe hadding the use of ammunition clips they're designed to use. we should think long and hard before going down this
1:12pm
road. last week's markup also made clear that the knowing and intentional effect of this legislation would prevent military veterans from choosing how best to defend their families and communities. in order to demonstrate what i believe to be the weaknesses and indeed, you might say absurdities of this legislation, i offered an amendment that would have exempted these military veterans with the ban on self-defense weapons and it was rejected by the committee. but, nine of our members on the other side chose to block that amendment and i think that was a mistake, but, this will be revisited on the floor. but what i would like to do, mr. chairman, is to call up my amendment 13117. and ask for its immediate consideration. >> [inaudible].
1:13pm
>> mic, please. >> that's correct. >> if i may --. >> [inaudible]. >> the chairman knows the reason i didn't vote for the that, that version of the violence against women act because it con taund an unconstitutional provision regarding tribal courts. although i was proud to support many elements of that bill, i could not support an unconstitutional provision.
1:14pm
this amendment would allow victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking under the violence against women's act to obtain and possess self-defense weapons prohibited by this legislation. i would ask unanimous content to enter into the record alert of support i received from congressional victims rights caucus. >> without objection. it will be introduced. senator do you wish to speak on the amendment? >> i'm sorry. >> i thought you were. >> it is also supported by concerned women for america and eagle forum among others of the as we all know the violence against women's act victims are often the target of repeat offenders and in a devastating cycle of violence. several weeks ago, gail trotter, of the independent women's forum explained to the committee that guns are a great equalizer for women trying to protect themselves from aggressors? particular she noted ar 15s, prohinted by this legislation are
1:15pm
weapon of choice, due that act asy and easy hand lick an lightweight. it is also important to note that legislation would ban millions of handguns outlawings magazines they're designed to accept. the handgun is the most common effective self-defense weapon used by women in the united states. this legislation would have disparate and tragic impact on female crime victims. for those reasons i would urge the amendment's consideration and passage. >> thank you very much. senator feinstein? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. very briefly i oppose this amendment. i hope we will vote no on it. we have looked for instances of self-defense. we have not found any. we have asked individuals. no one has presented me with any evidence that a person fares better in self-defense with an assault weapon or a large capacity magazine than with a standard handgun. if the senator has any
1:16pm
evidence, i hope he would present it. that's evidence where an assault weapon has actually been used for self-defense by people who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking. the law enforcement witnesses at our last hearing all testified that no one needs an assault weapon or large capacity magazine for self-defense. chief flynn of milwaukee testified, and i quote, the notion that innocent law-abiding citizens will use an assault weapon or high-capacity magazine to protect themselves is generally disapproved, end quote. mayor nutter of philadelphia testified that quote, this idea that these weapons are for self-defense is based on our experience completely absurd. they are self-, that they are self-defense weapons. u.s. attorney for colorado, john walsh, testified, and i quote, a ten-round magazine is sufficient to subdue a
1:17pm
criminal or potential assailant. there has been a lot of research done that discounts the idea that these weapons are effective self-defense weapons. so i urge a no vote. >> if i may respond, briefly. >> senator cornyn. >> i, as i said, i respect the distinguished senator from california but i would refer her again it testimony of gail trotter, who testified before the committee that these guns are a great equalizer including the use of an ar-15 which would be prohibited by this act. that is testimony before the committee that should be considered. and i might note the vice president has also apparently believes that a handgun is insufficient for self-defense because he advocated the use of a shotgun on at least one of the occasions. i would also ask, mr. chairman, to make part of the record, a listing of nine separate incidents of
1:18pm
people defending themselves with assault weapons that would be prohibited by this, by this legislation. >> be included into the record. no further discussion, senator from illinois. >> very quickly. i would also like to include in the record this morning "chicago tribune" story where the police officers in the city's chicago east garfield park shot to death a 58-year-old man who refused to drop an automatic assault weapon which he pulled on policeman. certainly not a weapon which police often carry but now face from criminals on the street with regularity. >> mr. chairman, just concluding, i would say that, the underlying bill exempts retired police officers and the rationale for that, which i support is that they can use their weapons, they're trained in these weapons. they can use them for self-defense. so why we would deny other american citizens the right to legitimately use these weapons for self-defense is,
1:19pm
escapes me. >> i think there's a larger issue here that we ought to think about and what senator cornyn is trying to do is protect constitutional rights and i think, everybody is trying to put the burden on senator cornyn to do that. the burden ought to be on those people trying to limit constitutional rights. i'm done. >> clerical the roll. >> mr. feinstein. >> no. >> mr. schumer. >> by proxy. >> mr. durbin. >> no. >> mr. white house? >> no by proxy. >> miss close but shar. . mr. blumenthal? >> yes. mr. grassley. >> aye. >> mr. hatch? >> aye by proxy. >> mr. --. >> aye by proxy. >> mr. graham, aye by proxy. >> mr. cornyn. >> aye. >> mr. lee, aye. >> mr. cruz? >> aye by proxy.
1:20pm
>> mr. chairman? >> no. >> mr. chairman? the votes are eight yeas, ten nays. >> senator schumer. senator schumer be recorded no in person. senator cornyn you have the floor. >> mr. chairman i call up amendment 13116 and ask for its immediate consideration. >> without objection it is before the, committee. >> this amendment would allow persons who obtained a protection order which iswell a broader definition than just, merely a protective order, as ordinarily, ordinarily thought of. this would allow people who obtained protection order as defined by the violence against women act to obtain and possess personal self-defense weapons prohibited by this legislation. the national coalition against domestic violence estimates that 1.3 million a year, women are traumatized by domestic violence and
1:21pm
that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. when a sexual assault statistics are added to the estimate the numbers are staggering. . . of dan and possess the self-defense weapons prohibited by this legislation. >> i would urge a no vote. again, in my view there is no strong evidence that these weapons are used for self-defense, nor do i believe
1:22pm
you need lips, drums, or ammunition feeding devices of more than 10 bullets for self-defense. what senator biden said is, if you really want a weapon, he is a 12 gauge shotgun. shotgun is not an assault weapon. i think we demonstrated a way these assault weapons can have different slides put in them, which essentially make them act like fully automatic weapons. these weapons are generally able to be spray fired. what's happening here, and i think we'll see more of these amendments is a never to get it and tucked it and create exception after exception -- nip it. i urge a no vote. >> clerk will call the roll. [roll call]
1:23pm
>> the amendment fails. you know, not necessarily because of this last amendment but i was thinking of some of the discussions, what kind of firepower people need in their homes. and one of the discussions sounds almost like somebody has been to one of these movies of these zombie takeovers, you know, all kinds of firepower. i've always been perfectly satisfied with my 45 i have at
1:24pm
home. well, there's two, but people escaping from prison announcing they're going to kill me, i felt pretty comfortable with that. i didn't feel it necessary to shoot at my neighborhood with a semiautomatic assault weapon, but i guess everybody depends upon how good it could -- how good of a shot they are. senator cornyn, go ahead. >> mr. chairman, we won't ask you to inventory your arsenal that you maintain at your home. >> we would lose a quorum by the time. senator cornyn. >> before senator cornyn speaks in response to what you said, it seems to me you are raising the question about the firepower that a person archive, maybe to protect their home isn't the rule out to be that you would have the firepower commensurate with possible aggressors, what they might have?
1:25pm
>> assault, that's a different thing, but go ahead, please, senator cornyn. >> if i may just ask before going to my next amendment, ask the senator from california, what's the purpose of exception for retired police officers in the bill? >> the reason for retired police officers is that generally they do maintain their weapon. they d to keep their weapon. the retired police felt strongly, and this is a problem for them if you're going to remove weapons for them. and in the crafting of the bill, we obviously make certain compromises. and made certain changes. that was one that we made. >> mr. chairman, i would call up my a minute 13118. >> 13118. without objection that is before the committee. >> mr. chairman, this amendment would allow residents of
1:26pm
counties not on the southwestern border to obtain and possess self-defense weapons prohibited by this legislation. as we know, just across our border to the south, transnational criminal organizations are equipped with fully automatic military style weapons, and trained in military tactics. they are given a hundreds of thousands of ask of violence every year. these organizations have also expanded their footprint to the training through drug trafficking and human trafficking. these cartels are dangerous, as are the games that support their operations. we know that they're operating along the southwestern border i cannot in good conscience tell my constituents that the federal government is going to deny them the freedom to defend their families from these transnational criminal organizations. and i would ask my colleagues to support the amendment.
1:27pm
>> if i may respond -- thank you. again this is another way to create a nip and a tough. i would like to point out to the body that the bill contains nearly 100 pages of weapons by make and model that are exempted. there are plenty of weapons out there. the whole point of this bill is to reduce, over time, the supply, the position from the transfer and the sale of military style weapons. and anyone that has a concern that their weapon is effective need only to look out the bill and you will see most likely your weapon is exempted by name, make and model. and that is from everything from handguns to senator fired rifles, and on and on.
1:28pm
i would like to make that point. i would urge a no vote. >> could i speak? i think this brings up a bigger issue. i support the amendment, but i think we ought to remind everybody that when it comes to the citizens of any place in the united states, either local governments who support them or protect them, or the federal government. in the case of immigration, it's quite clear that that's the responsibility of the federal government to protect our borders, secure our borders and to protect our sovereignty. now, in the southwest of the united states, we've got people being murdered by the very example, or the reason for his amendment. the federal government is not doing their job, or these folks wouldn't get across the border. so arizona steps in, some legislation, saying well, the federal government is now protecting our people under the 10th amendment.
1:29pm
the states' rights, or state responsibility of protecting the safety and welfare of their citizens, stepping to do. and you know what? the federal government start suing the state of arizona. if the state -- is the federal government was doing its job, arizona wouldn't have had to stepping. wouldn't have to spend all this money. so senator cornyn comes up with his amendment. at the federal government isn't going to do, are we going to allow the individual citizens to do what? if the governments don't do it, the second amendment is the right of self protection. we are to respect that right. we ought to give the people the power to do it if they want to protect themselves when the state government isn't doing it, and the state government would have to do it the federal government was doing its job. and then instead of suing the state of arizona, the president of the united states are to be stepping in there and saying, we will work with you to protect your citizens. >> mr. chairman?
1:30pm
>> senator blumenthal. >> if i may respond, not so much to that point but to the general i never argument that i think is raised by these trained in which is a self-defense argument, and i respect senator collins -- senator cornyn's desire to defense or the means for self-defense to victims of domestic violence and to victims of assault and i think we'll do. the question is what kind of weapons are necessary or best suited for that defense? and, obviously, the second amendment guarantees every individual, regardless of whether he or she is a victim of any crime, sexual assault or otherwise, the self-defense. the hello decision makes that point clear. i think the question really is what kind of weapon provides the best or safest means of defense. and i think the testimony before this committee was very clear that the use of these assault
1:31pm
weapons is primarily for criminal purposes. it's an offensive weapon, it's a military style weapon that was designed and made for our military to kill people. and it may be used to kill people for self-defense, but the experience is that self-defense is best done by other kinds of weapons, which are commonly used in close range. one of the witnesses, attorney general john walsh said -- after a close range, a 10 round magazine is sufficient to subdue a criminal or a potential assailant. chief flynn said much the same thing, that these assault weapons are commonly used by criminals, often against police, not by people in self-defense. so i think it is the nature of the weapon that is at issue
1:32pm
here. and assault weapons, because they are so extraordinarily damaging, they cause multiple wounds, more serious ones, often with police officers as their victim, are simply appropriate to be banned with the very well-defined an explicit approach that this proposal takes. and so i think these amendments, while they may be well-intentioned, and i agree with their purpose in providing means of self-defense the victims of these horrendous crimes can be done better by other types of weapons. >> i would just respond to my friend, and say why would we want to make an otherwise law-abiding citizen into a criminal, if they want to use these weapons to defend themselves and their families?
1:33pm
i see that as the defect of this legislation. i also believe that if the criminals that you allude to, and as a former attorney general do know this area as well as anybody, if the criminals element is going to be using weapons like this, why would you deny for defensive purposes otherwise law-abiding citizens to be able to use and the equivalent firepower to defend themselves? it's not much satisfaction to say that criminals are going to have access to the whole range of weapons that they will have access to because they don't care about the laws that are passed. and we're going to give the an american citizen a peashooter to defend themselves with. i just think it's inadequate, and you are criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens in a properly, in my view. >> mr. chairman? >> senator coons. >> if i might pose a question to the senior senator from
1:34pm
california, in your response to senator cornyn, you mentioned that there some 100 pages of the bill that specifies particular firearms that if this bill will pass, congress would've deemed prohibitive. it seems to me that all of us should begin as our foundational document with the constitution, and the second amendment and the bill of rights provide the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. the term the right of the people, when the framers included in the bill of rights, they use it as a term of art. that same phrase, the right of the people is done in the first minute, the right of the people to peacefully assemble. it's also than in the fourth minute, the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. and the question that i would pose to the senior senator from california is, which he deemed consistent with the bill of rights for congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the
1:35pm
second amendment? in the context of the first or fourth amendment. namely, would she consider constitutional for congress to specify that the first amendment shall apply only to the following books, and shall not apply to the books that congress has deemed outside the protection of the bill of rights? likewise which he think that the fourth amendment protection against such searches and seizures could properly applied only to the following specified individuals, and not to the individuals that congress has deemed outside the protection? >> let me just make a couple of points in response. one, i'm not a sixth grader. senator, i've been on this committee for 20 years. i was a mayor for nine years. i walked in, i saw people shot. i've looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. i've seen the bullets that implode. in sandy hook youngsters were dismembered. love, there are other weapons.
1:36pm
i've been up -- i'm not a lawyer, but after 20 years i've been up close and personal to the constitution. i have great respect for it. this doesn't mean that weapons of war and the heller decision clearly points out three exceptions. two of which are pertinent here. and so i come you know, it's finally going to lecture me on the constitution. i appreciated. just know i have been you for a long time. i've passed on a number of bills. i studied the constitution myself. i am reasonably well-educated come and i thank you for the lecture. incidentally, this is not prohibit come to use the word prohibit. it exempts 2271 weapons. isn't that enough for the people in the united states? do they need a bazooka? do they need other high-powered
1:37pm
weapons and military people use to kill in close combat? i don't think so. so i come from a different place than you do. i respect your view. i ask you to respect my views. >> mr. chairman, i can't add anything to that. >> senator cruz. >> mr. chairman, i would ask yet another question of the senior senator of california. i think nobody doubts a person sanity or her passion. and yet at the same time i would note that she chose not to answer the question that i asked, which is in her judgment would be consistent with the constitution for congress to specify which books are printed and which books or not. and to use -- >> the answer is obvious, no. >> and if i may -- >> can we keep on -- i appreciated their discussion on the book. i know that they have that in the state of texas where your --
1:38pm
[inaudible]. something we would not do in vermont, but we're not going to talk about your rights. but let's stick to guns. >> mr. chairman, i appreciate your acknowledging that the state of texas allows books. i would specify more -- >> pornography books? child pornography? >> protected by the first amendment. >> there are different tests on different amendments. i think what the senator is going to point out with something didn't occur to me at the moment, there are certain kinds of pornographic materials that would not be covered by the first amendment. >> and is a few of the senior senator from california that congress should be in the business of specifying, particular books, for that matter with respect to the fourth amendment, particular individuals who are not covered by the bill of rights? >> congress is in the business of making law. the supreme court interprets the
1:39pm
law. they strike down the law, they strike down the law. attests in heller with respect to unusual weapons and to other things, i think do not cover, in other words, they cover an exemption for assault weapons. and this is broader before the court, he should pass. i'm sure that argument will be made. >> senator from illinois wish -- >> that's exactly the point. the senator knows having attended law school and professes some experience in the constitution. none of these rights are absolute, none of them. in the heller decision to specifically to the question of this amendment. and tells us when they were asked in heller decision a panel, heller 2, a panel of republican appointed judges rejected a second amendment challenge to d.c.'s assault weapons ban and magazine limits. the second amendment challenge. the d.c. circuit court held that
1:40pm
such laws quoted not effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect the ability to defend themselves but i could go on but i think the senator from california has made his case. >> the clerk will call the roll. [roll call] >> i would know he is here. >> the amendment fails. are there for the amendments? please go ahead.
1:41pm
>> again, -- >> i appreciate -- i mean it century. i appreciate the courtesy of the senior senator from texas who has told us well in advance which member -- he has not taken an undue amount of time. that means a lot to me. please go ahead. >> again, the fundamental flaw i think in the legislation is assumed that certain types of weapons will be used only for offensive purposes. that's wrong. if it were true, the bill itself would not exempt retired law enforcement officers from the criminalization of the possession of these weapons. and so to further point out that fundamental flaw in the legislation, i would call up my amendment 13181. this is -- step 13 --
1:42pm
>> i would ask rates immediate consideration. mr. chairman, this -- >> the sender has that right and the amendment is before the committee. >> mr. chairman, the distinct ranking member pointed out not all of america is urban. there are large sections of urban -- excuse me, will america where government, including law enforcement officers are not omnipresent. this amendment would prevent the bill from threatening the safety of law-abiding citizens living in rural areas, and rural communities of our country by exempting them from possession of these self-defense weapons. the violence is women act itself recognizes that citizens in rural areas and communities deserve special protection under our laws. in my home state of texas and around the nation, rural americans often live are away from the protection of law enforcement officials.
1:43pm
and this committee should recognize the vast differences between different regions of are country before enacting blanket bans on personal self-defense weapons from washington, d.c. we must ensure that rural americans are able to fully protect their families before the police arrive too late. at the scene of a violent crime. and my amendment exempting law, otherwise law-abiding citizens living in rural areas from the criminalization attempted by this legislation by exempting them from prohibitions on the possession of these weapons for self-defense purposes. and ask my colleagues to support it. >> i thank the distinguished senator. i'm very -- >> i urge and novo, mr. chairman. >> senator feinstein urges a no vote. i pay particular attention living on a dirt road in a town that has no police force.
1:44pm
spent with the guns you have, they don't need a police force spent i think i am totally protected. the clerk will call the roll. [roll call] >> i would note that it of other amendments but in order to maintain the pleasant and disposition of the chairman, and not to burn any bridges unnecessarily --
1:45pm
[laughter] >> and this close to st. patrick's day spent at least right now. [laughter] i withhold further amendments from the floor. thank you. >> i appreciate it. senator from texas knows my disappointment not being elected pope. [laughter] so appreciate, i appreciate his courtesy there. i know i'm going to pay for that smart alec remarked. i appreciate the courtesy of all the senders. we've had for -- i guess were still considered cardinals, but i appreciate the courtesy of all of the senators of both parties, and moving through four pieces of legislation. i want to call the roll on senator feinstein -- i told her i had some concerns about some aspects of it, but i feel this is a matter of such importance. it should be voted on by the
1:46pm
whole senate, not just by this committee, and so i will vote to support her bill as -- i will vote to support the bill as it is before us. and the clerk will call the roll. [roll call] >> and the bill will be reported to the floor. i know several senators have asked for time to speak.
1:47pm
senator feinstein. i know we've completed the work on the agenda combat several senators have asked to speak and i will stay here and give everybody a chance. >> i know other members want to speak on this. i just want a very common to make a very few comments. i think every member of this committee needs to ask themselves a few questions. first, i want to thank the members that have stood with me. it is very much appreciated. as i said before, the road is uphill. i fully understand it. i think a lot of my passion comes from just what i've seen on the streets of cities in this country. but i really think that every member of this committee needs to ask himself a few following
1:48pm
questions. are we going to stand with the thousands of police chiefs and law enforcement officers who do support this bill? are going to stand with victims of gun violence? are we going to stand with the overwhelming number of people that there has not been one poll done that doesn't show the majority of americans want this bill passed. how is this country going to be a weaker country because we don't produce millions of assault weapons that end up in the hands of gangs, to go for grievance killers? you know, let me say something about a young man at sandy hook. becausbecause in a sense, it's typical. this is a young man who was disturbed. he was maladjusted. his mother, a gun collector, gave him this weapon. took into the range, taught him how to fire the weapon. the first person he killed was his mother. then he went to sandy hook and
1:49pm
killed brave adults and those children. you know, when we hit the testimony from the emergency physicians about what those bullets did inside the bodies of those children, it is a very sobering picture. i mean, i cannot get out of my mind trying to find a pulse and someone and putting fingers in a bullet hole. i cannot get out of my mind walking into a crime and sing the brain matter all over, the carnage. and seeing these massive tax continue to happen. i mean, i thought it would in with the texas belltower, but it hasn't. universities, schools, movie theaters, law offices, places of employment. and these weapons become the weapon of choice. why allow them to continue?
1:50pm
this bill doesn't take a weapon from anybody. it's silly talks about the future. it simply says if you possess one, you have to keep it safely, trigger lock him that if you sell to anyone but a family member, they have to have a background check. it affects clips and ammunition feeding devices. so people that want to go into a theater and killed 100 people can't do it with a 100 round magazine. i don't see that as being bad. i don't see that as harming america. because we have so many guns. no nation has more guns in their civilian society than we do. and you can compare murder rates with this isn't allowed to happen. you can compare it with the uk. you can compare with australia. and you will see a few double digits and then you'll see
1:51pm
thousands in america. so how is this a bad thing to do? you know, i've been in this political career, to come in a city, a tumultuous city, a diversity. i've seen bright young police officers, young latino officers, that if one thought had a brilliant future in the san francisco police department, walking down third street when a gang member walked the other way with an ak-47, opened his coat and shot him dead. how many times does this have to happen? and it happens all over. that's why the police are for this. you know, you can exempt retired police. they have been trained. they know how to use them. very different from a grievance killer. very different from jonesboro or columbine or virginia tech. very different. and the clips, the size of the
1:52pm
clips, who needs it? i mean, what anyone respect someone with a 30 round clip going out and shooting deer? i don't think so. so the problem is, you know, i understand the right of people to want to collect these, and nothing takes any weapon away from anybody. and to prove it we exempt so many weapons. so i have a hard time understanding why our country is better off with respect to the case, i know others will argue this, but no assault weapons legislation has been struck down. my last bill went through the fourth, the sixth, the ninth, and the d.c. circuit. this bill is patterned after that, and it wasn't struck down. none have been thus far. no state bill, and the last federal bill. so i just wanted to say that. i want to thank everybody. senator, i want to apologize to
1:53pm
you. you sort of got my dander up, and that happens on occasion. but -- >> the first time ever last night. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, may i ask for unanimous consent that my vote be reported as president and not by proxy? >> i was going to suggest that. we're glad that i know -- have you back and your votes will be recorded as i go and person. >> he was medevac. >> senator schumer. before we leave i will have a statement, too. senator graham. >> thank you, mr. chairman but i would like to make the same request of senator whitehouse. i think i missed able but i think would like to have recorded as present. to senator feinstein, you have been consistent. you are essence you as the day is long, and i completely understand your point of view,
1:54pm
and i will vote no because for a couple of reasons. number one, about the capacity of the clip. one bullet in the hands of a mentally disturbed person, or a felon, a gang member, is one too many. there are thousands of these high-capacity clips in circulation today. but i could see a situation wherein an individual citizen would need more than six bullets or 10. most assaults, not most, a third of the assaults that occur are by more than one perpetrator. now, i keep going back to the situation of the lady in the land a couple months ago. a man broke into her home. she was at home with her twin daughters. he had just gotten out of jail, had a crowbar. she ran up to the second floor of the house and hid in a closet with her children. on the phone with her husband. she had a .38 revolver, six shot revolver. the guy broke in the closet.
1:55pm
she can be begun, it in five or six times. he was still able to get up and drove away. thank god there were not too. in that situation it would not bother me at all, senator feinstein, issued 30 or 100 bullets. it does bother me what happened in connecticut and other places where people go in and take innocent lives with any kind of a weapon than any kind of magazine. now, how do you interrupt a shooter? if you limit the size of the capacity we have one of these mass shootings, it will get a break in the action so somebody can stop the shooter. that makes sense to a certain extent, but i can assure you it is a false sense of interrupting the shooter. it has a certain logic to it, i think would have a better system. if you had there are $309 spent on security -- securing this capital. you can't walk anywhere in here without some harmed card. -- armed guard. this is the maggie, this is a thinner a democracy but a lot of people like to do harm for the
1:56pm
building and what it stands for and the people inside. i believe the best way to enter the shooter is definitely health system that actually records and enters into the database people who should not be able to buy a gun. in south carolina a lady was able to purchase a gun lawfully who had been pled not guilty by reason of insanity in federal court killing the president of the united states. the system did not capture you. there so many better ways to do with us. as to the assault and, 2.4% of murders last year were caused -- the estimate was a rifle, not an ar-15 but a rifle. so we are really focusing on what i think is an emotional part of the problem, but will create a false sense of safety. and i said is probably more than i should, i own an ar-15, not out of animosity of paranoia that life is going to disintegrate in my community. and i would need it, but there's circumstances were if you did
1:57pm
have a situation where lawlessness took over from a national disaster, that self-defense component of an ar-15 is to me far greater than a double barrel shotgun. but you don't have to agree with them. the reason i bought the ar-15, i served in afghanistan as reservists and people in my unit were buying ar-15's and in ninth with a local of the unit. i haven't even shot to give. i need to go out and shoot a. that's what i bought a. that's why the people in the unabomber. and i would just suggest that this legislation has been tried before. they really did not appreciably change things. and after the heller case, i really do believe that there is a very good argument, the law now is unconstitutional because traditional lawful purposes such as self-defense, i can make a logical argument where an ar-15 is a better weapon certain circumstances and other weapons that one may want to buy. common use at the time though, over 4 million of these can.
1:58pm
it's not like i'm the only one in america with his. there are 4 million. it's the number one selling rifle i think last year. not dangerous, of course it is, and unusual is the second, the third test it can't be unusual in the circumstances of what's going on in american terms of people purchasing the rifle. and having said that, i will vote no, but it is not about questioning senator feinstein's motives. we just see things different. she has been doing this for a very long time because she believes it will help. and 90 days it will not appreciably change things, and is giving a false sense of safety and there are better things we can do in a bipartisan way to address gun violence. the crooks are going to get the guns. if you ever find yourself having to meet one of these crooks and i want to make sure you can defend yourself. >> i would note for everybody --
1:59pm
i said i was a years long as anybody wishes to speak. i would just note out of consideration for everybody there is going to be a vote in a few minutes, at which point we will have to recess and come back. senator schumer on you've been patiently waiting. >> i wasn't going to speak but i do want to make a point in reference to the dialogue of the senator from texas and the senator from california. you know, even before heller, i go to upstate new york, to gun clubs, and people would say to me, why is it that people done in new york city want to interpret the first or the fourth amendment broadly and expansively and see the second amendment to the pinhole of militias and only i if you werea member of the reserves or national guard would have right to bear arms. and as i thought about it, they had a point. heller made that point in a constitutional sense. it said that there is a right to
2:00pm
bear arms and a non-militia member, a non-reservist in washington, d.c. has that right. and i think that's a good thing that they said that. and i've made speeches and documents that those of us on the more progressive side should accept that argument. but heller made a second point. and that is that there are limits on the second amendment the way there are limits on every other amendment. and, in fact, specifically in regard to my good friend from south carolina, under heller, the d.c. circuit explicit upheld the d.c. assault weapons ban as a reasonable limitation. but my point goes more large than that. we now have the inverse situation. our folks, some folks defend the second amendment to all limits. there are no reasonable limitations on the second amendment, and many of those very same people with much more
2:01pm
narrowly interpret the first amendment of the fourth amendment or some of the others. so in reference to the colleague, to question my colleague from question as, would you limit books, which in in specific books? yet, it's constitutional within the and that of the first amendment to eliminate child pornography. and we have lost lost at a very explicit explicit about that. very explicit that a constitutional, have been upheld as constitutional. similarly you can't falsely scream fire in a crowded theater. similarly, we have libel laws. every one of these is an impeachment on the sacred first amendment. upheld as constitutional. there are reasonable limits on each limit, on each amendment pic and i think it is anomalous to put it kindly, for either side to say, to interpret one amendment so extensively and another amendment so narrowly
2:02pm
that it just doesn't add up because your interpretation of the constitution should be consistent. and this is particularly to now i would say to my friends who defend the second amendment. to too many people there are no limits, none. no reasonable limits. and it makes no sense. you can still believe in the rights to bear arms which i believe in, and say, for instance, that there are certain arms that may not fall in that ambit, certainly in certain circumstances. certainly it would seem to me that making sure that there's a background check under the brady law making it more making the background check more effective is constitutional. although someone the other side have said it's not. so i wish we could all, a little
2:03pm
bit more to the middle on this issue. i wish that those of us on this side of the table, and they think we do, and certainly heller did believe in their right to bear arms and it is no less a part of the constitution that other parts of the constitution. but i would hope that some my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would realize and recognize, a better word, that there've are reasonable limits on the second amendment just as there are reasonable limits on all of the other amendments. mr. chairman, thank you. >> i want to thank my colleagues from california and new york for the statement, and just add that there are a couple things i would like to note. today is march 14. it is three months since newtown, connecticut, on december 14. what happened in that class, classroom and the classrooms in school as in the hook is a national tragedy. senator feinstein, thank you for bringing this back for our
2:04pm
consideration. the ar-15 that was used that day to kill those innocent children and six brave teachers and administrators is a weapon that really should be restricted in this country. not to thos those who currentlyd about future sales and that's what you address. and i think it has been held up before and again in the courts that these assault weapon bans are constitutional. we held and expressing on this, which you attended, and doctor laurence tribe from harvard testified and said he argued that this legislation is unconstitutional is decidedly a losing argument. justice scalia, no liberal, made crystal-clear and how decision there is quote historical tradition in our country of prohibiting to unusual weapons. assault weapons come and go. assault assault weapons are disproportionately dangerous when used in assault and to represent a small fraction of the guns in circulation.
2:05pm
there's no doubt in my mind that -- has been held by previous courts is constitutional and there is sounds standing for four to be considered. this notion that while it's such a small percentage, it may be a small percentage, but the tragedy that we've witnessed, tragedies we've witnessed in the use of these assault weapons are reminders that we cannot stand idly by. and as the senator from new york has suggested, argues some absolute position that will not allow us to make schools and neighborhoods and homes safer in america. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator cruz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think all of us understand passions that this topic unless it's. but in my view, decisions in this body on everything am especially this topic, should be driven by facts and the data, and by the constitution, not my passion. so i'd like to make four points briefly.
2:06pm
number one, machine guns are already functionally illegal. when this topic is discussed in the public forum, a great many people when they hear the phrase assault weapons believe that what is being discussed is fully automatic machine guns. senior senator from california made reference to an ak-47, i believe, wielded by a gang member. an ak-47 is automatically machine guns functioned legal today. tragically, gang members don't tend to follow gun laws. number two, this bill, the data demonstrate, would be singularly ineffective in preventing violent crime. that i think is not surprising because as the hearings on this bill demonstrated, the weapons that would be prohibited by this bill are functionally identical to some and automatic the
2:07pm
rifles, millions of which are in circulation. and this bill targets cosmetic features on guns. cosmetic features that any of the day make the guns appears scary, but does not alter the basic mechanism. and i would note that we don't have to hypothesize about the effectiveness, because we, in fact, have seen what happens when a very, very similar bill is in effect. the prior assault weapons ban was in effect for a decade. three times the department of justice funded studies on the assault weapons bill, and three times the studies were not able to find any statistically significant impact on violent crime. as a result of the assault weapons. that's three studies in a row, which is very difficult to get away from. and, indeed, essence the assault weapons ban expired, we now see murders by rifles are roughly
2:08pm
half today what they were when the assault weapons ban is in effect. so this is not a law that i think has any reasonable prospect of reducing violent crime, something i know everyone on this committee received violent crime reduce. indeed, i would suggest, my third point, that is the real objective is reducing violent crime, we should be devoting our time to former effective steps to we should be devoting our time to laws that target violent criminals. we should be devoting our time to laws that improve in the background check but we heard has won the 18 states right now have submitted 100 or fewer mental health records to the background check program. that's a series from. i would note, home state of texas has had over 200,000 mental health records to the background. system. and i fully expect the support on the floor, legislation that is targeted at the violent
2:09pm
criminals and not law-abiding citizens. indeed, can if we wanted to go further and really consider significant steps to stop violent crime, i would suggest we could consider legislation for a constitutional amendment to alter or to appeal exclusionary proceedings. there is able to consistently excludes evidence of guilt from violent criminals and has resulted in violent criminals being freed over and over and over again. it's the passion that is focused on this issue right now, we are targeted at preventing violent crime. i would suggest considering the impact of the exclusionary rule would be a far more fruitful area for actually stopping violent crime here because i, too, as many of the members of this committee have worked in law enforcement for many, many years, have dealt with victims of crime and think we need to be serious about protecting americans from violent crime with every tool at our disposal.
2:10pm
my fourth and final point is that the constitution, in my opinion, should be the touchstone of everything we do. some have suggested in this hearing that the role of congress is to pass laws and it's up to the court to consider constitutionality. i would point out that every one of us takes an oath to defend the constitution. and that is a fundamental obligation of every member of this body. there has been some suggestion that heller would allow this regulation to i would point out that i am not unfamiliar with the heller case. indeed, i represented 31 states before the u.s. supreme court in the heller case. so i have an intimate familiarity with that case having been an active part of litigating it and winning five-4 before the supreme court.
2:11pm
what the supreme court said in heller, it did say there are some restrictions on the second them that are permissible. for example, it specifically identifies the current prohibition on fully automatic machine guns. but it also said that weapons that are in common use, such as in the case and guns were the principal issue being discussed. and the same arguments that have been suggested here about why so-called assault weapons can be banned were made by the district of columbia in heller, for why handguns could be banned. the supreme court said no, if they're in common use for self-defense, they cannot be banned consistent with the second amendment. we have heard testimony that there are some 4 million weapons that would be covered by this bill. i would suggest on any measure 4 million weapons qualifies as in common use, and so under the terms of heller, they cannot constitutionally be prohibited. the final point i would make on the constitution is somehow going to public opinion polls.
2:12pm
-- is some have pointed to public opinion polls. it's particularly important when the bill of rights is unpopular. that was the entire purpose of the bill of rights, when our rights are popular we don't need the constitution. the purpose of it is to stand for the rights of minority when the majority is acting to strip the right. and i would note the senior senator from new york asked about other rights. i think we should be vigorous in protecting every right in the constitution. just last week a number of us spent some 13 hours on the floor of the senate defending the fifth amendment. and in particular, the right of americans not to be denied or life without due process of law. and, indeed, center rand paul and i introduced legislation to make clear that the chinese government cannot use a codec a u.s. citizen on u.s. soil if the individual does not pose an imminent threat. i would welcome support on the
2:13pm
other side of the aisle on that important protection of the fifth amendment, just this week -- >> i don't want to cut the send off. he has made five of his four-point. but we do, we're going to have a vote in two minutes and i would ask him, if he wants to make a longer testing appreciate the lecture of what we're supposed to do. i've been doing it for 38 years, i'm always happy to have a reminder from some of you have been here for probably not quite as longer i would like to let some of the other -- [talking over each other] spent if i could have 60 more seconds to conclude. >> go ahead. >> likewise earlier this week, this committee voted to fund a study of the impact of films and video gangs on violent crimes, and i would note that i voted no against that is a because i
2:14pm
believed in the first minute. i believe in the second amendment. i believe in the fifth amendment. i would suggest everyone of us has an obligation to the constitution. i will happily welcome support from anyone who wants to stay and fight for the constitution because in my view, that should be our principal responsibility and obligation. thank you. >> senator whitehouse. >> i will speak briefly. it's pretty clear where -- >> is your microphone on? >> i think it's pretty clear where this is going and where the political forces have been. and i think i would hope that as we go to the floor, i can work with senator feinstein and others to make sure that we get a separate vote on the high-capacity magazines question. it's pretty clear that the assault weapons ban has, the other party has come login
2:15pm
against us i don't see us getting 60 votes. i do think it's possible to get 60 votes on the high-capacity weapons ban. it is hard to imagine that it can be a violation of the first amendment for somebody to yell fire in a crowded theater, but it's not a violation of the second amendment to prevent somebody from bringing a 100-pound rising into a crowded theater in aurora, colorado. we've heard testimony in this committee, very specific testament about lives that would have been saved if there had not been those high-capacity magazines. we heard from representative difference has been about the shooting, in which he mentioned the child who was the 13th shot victim would not have happened if he had to reload to me. we heard from the u.s. attorney, prosecuting the aurora case about the harm that was the direct consequence of having the capacity of magazine --
2:16pm
>> the committee went on to approve gun-control legislation on a partyline vote. it now goes to the senate for consideration. live now to the u.s. senate for further debate on legislation to keep the government funded this coming september. live coverage of the senate.
2:17pm
2:18pm
the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:19pm
2:20pm
2:21pm
2:22pm
2:23pm
2:24pm
2:25pm
2:26pm
2:27pm
2:28pm
2:29pm
2:30pm
quorum call:
2:31pm
2:32pm
2:33pm
,
2:34pm
2:35pm
2:36pm
2:37pm
2:38pm
2:39pm
2:40pm
2:41pm
2:42pm
2:43pm
2:44pm
2:45pm
quorum call:
2:46pm
2:47pm
2:48pm
2:49pm
2:50pm
mr. inhofe: i have a modification at the desk to are -- what's the number of that -- amendment 29. the presiding officer: the amendment will be so modified. mr. inhofe: thank you, madam president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:51pm
2:52pm
2:53pm
2:54pm
2:55pm
2:56pm
2:57pm
2:58pm
2:59pm
3:00pm
quorum call:
3:01pm
3:02pm
3:03pm
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: reserving the right to object. really i won't. i just want to seek clarification from the gentleman from texas. about how long will the senator seek recognition? mr. cruz: i need only five
3:04pm
minutes. ms. mikulski: that is more than agreeable. we know the topic and we're actually eager to hear it. madam president, i withdraw my objection. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from texas. mr. cruz: i thank the senator from maryland. and i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cruz: i would note that today is the 40th anniversary of the release of john mccain from a prisoner of war camp in vietnam. and i wanted to take a moment in this body to thank senator mccain for his extraordinary service to our nation. on october 26, 1967, john mccain, then a young man, volunteered to serve his count country, to put himself in harm's way, and he found himself very directly in harm's way, captured and imprisoned in the infamous hanoi hilton, and subject to unspeakable torture and abuse.
3:05pm
he did so for our country. he did so for every american. and when midway through his imprisonment he was offered early release, john mccain showed extraordinary courage and valor, turning that down, believing it inconsistent with his obligations as an officer. that's the sort of bravery that those of us who have never endured imprisonment and torture can only imagine. and yet he continued to remain in harrowing circumstances, suffering beatings and abuse that to this day limit his mobility. 40 years ago, john mccain was released and able to come home to america to return a hero. and in his time since being released from vietnam, he has been a leader on a great many issues. he has been a public servant in
3:06pm
this body. and he has repeatedly exemplified courage and integrity. and, madam president, i thought it was only fitting that we as a body i have no doubt would unanimously agree in commending his valor and integrity and sacrifice for his country and recognizing this very important milestone, this 40th anniversary. and with that, i yield the balance of my time. madam president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:07pm
3:08pm
3:09pm
3:10pm
3:11pm
3:12pm
3:13pm
3:14pm
3:15pm
quorum call: ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i ask the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: madam president, i
3:16pm
just want to tell my colleagues and anyone watching, although it looks like nothing is going on on the senate floor, it doesn't mean that nothing is going on. i am incredibly impressed at the cooperation on both sides of the aisle as we try to get a finite list of amendments and the proper sequencing of those amendments in order to complete the business of moving the continuing funding resolution. so there is a lot going on in other offices. these are not back rooms. these aren't deal cutting. this is the workmanlike way that a parliament, democratic institution does. there are senators who have ideas to improve the bill. senator shelby and i think our bill needs no improvement. we think we ought to just move it, do it, send it to the house and avoid the kind of gridlock of a continuing -- of a government shutdown. however, senators do have the right to offer amendments, so
3:17pm
they are writing -- they have now offered their amendments, people are scrutinizing them to make sure they understand the policy consequences, and also that we don't have unintended consequences. so although it looks like there is no debate going on, there is a lot of discussion going on, and we hope in a very short time to be able to move to amendments, to be able to discuss and dispose of those amendments in a way that satisfies both parties, and i just wanted people to know, because you talk to folks back home and they say i watch c-span and all i hear is senators' names in alphabetical order. well, i just wanted them to know. and then they know there might not be an official hearing going on, although we do know that some are going on today. so i just wanted to tell them what's going on, and that's part of the process. this is a big bill.
3:18pm
and i really hope that a big bill where it includes every aspect of the federal funding is not done this way in fiscal 2014. i want to continue the cooperation that's been begun between senator shelby and myself and the mutual leadership, that for our funding bills, we move them in a regular order where people -- let's say the department of defense, the two biggest are the department of defense and labor-h.h.s., meaning labor, education, health and human services. and be able to go through them and look at what are the best funding -- is it the appropriate funding level and are there any ways we can achieve more frugality, more value. i note the senator from oklahoma is on the floor. he has heard me say he has often taken a good -- he is my red
3:19pm
team guy. he often takes a look at the bill and has pointed out some things that cause heartburn. this is the way a democracy should work. i want to get back to a regular order where we know what we're doing and the american public understands what we're doing. now we're moving expeditiously. gee, i would dearly love to be able to bring this bill to a closure tonight. i'm not sure it's possible. that's why we are scrutinizing and scrubbing these amendments now. so, madam president -- but we cannot proceed to any other amendments until we see the whole package and what is the best way to organize it and sequence it. so i just wanted to share this with my colleagues watching it in their offices and in committee rooms, and i now yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. mr. coburn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i want to compliment the chairman of the
3:20pm
appropriations committee. she has done a good work. she does want to get back to regular order, but as you can see right now, nothing is happening. and there is a reason nothing is happening. it's not in her control. nothing is happening because there are a lot of amendments and they are not sure they want to take votes on them. and so rather than the regular process of coming down here and offering amendments that are germane and agreeing to 60-vote levels for their passage, having done that agreement, now we're not allowed to offer amendments because supposedly somebody has to agree with them. well, that isn't what the senate's about. the way you decide whether the senate agrees to it or not is offer the amendment, vote on it and stand up and defend your vote. it isn't the chairman that's doing this and it isn't senator shelby that's doing this. it's the leadership. and so the fact is we have amendments. we were criticized because we wanted to read the bill. we have amendments. we have been waiting to offer
3:21pm
amendments. i waited around here an hour last night to offer amendments and then had another commitment, n couldn't do it. i offered to come over here at 9:30 this morning, couldn't do it. we have offered one amendment. we have five other amendments we'd like to get a look at and a vote. yet we're going to stay in a quorum call, the people's business isn't going to get done. people are going to continue to get furloughed in the next two weeks or start to get furloughed in the next two weeks and it's because somebody wants to take away the individual right of a senator to offer an amendment. we're not postcloture, so even amendments that aren't germane are with the to be filed against this bill. so i have no animus at all against the chairman. i am thankful she is the chairman of the appropriations committee. i trust her implicitly to move on regular order, her bills out of her committee and bring them to the floor. but the idea that you have to have permission from somebody in the senate to offer an amendment goes totally count irto what --
3:22pm
counter to what the senate's all about. we have a lot of problems to solve. we could finish this bill. we're sitting here. i can offer all my amendments in 15 minutes, and we can stack them and vote them, 60 votes, i don't care. but the fact is we can't offer an amendment, and if i asked to bring up an amendment right now, the chairwoman has been instructed to object to that. i understand that. i'm not going to make her go through that exercise. but i think it's really important that the american people know what's going on. it's not out in the open. it's behind the scenes. and they are negotiating away amendments so that you won't know what could have happened or what might have happened. had we really been in regular order, we would have been through with this bill, but we're wasting time trying to play behind the scenes nontransparent negotiations about a bill that's vitally important to this country. and so the process isn't working well. i trust the chairman to bring
3:23pm
that process back, but she is handicapped by the instructions that she has received. with that, i'd yield the floor. mr. hatch: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: madam president, next week, the senate will for the first time in over four years -- the presiding officer: i'm sorry. the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: will the senator yield for a question? mr. hatch: i thought we were in morning business. ms. mikulski: the c.r. is on the floor. does the senator wish to speak in morning business? mr. hatch: would you yield some time to me? ms. mikulski: may i inquire how long the senator wishes to speak? mr. hatch: i that i probably about 15 minutes. is that too much? ms. mikulski: it could be. mr. hatch: i can withdraw it. okay.
3:24pm
ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i note the absence of a quorum while we discuss how we are going to proceed with debate. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:25pm
3:26pm
mr. hatch: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: madam president, next week, the senate will for the first time in over four years debate a -- the presiding officer: excuse me. the senate is in a quorum call. mr. hatch: i'm sorry. i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: madam president, next week, the senate will for the first time in over four years debate a budget resolution on the senate floor. while i have many qualms with the substance of the budget we will be debating, i have to say in terms of the process, this is a welcome development. the american people have waited too long for the senate to fulfill its basic legal obligation to produce a budget every year. yesterday, with the release of the democrats' budget plan, that delay officially came to an end, and i'm proud of them. of course, now that i have had a chance to look over that budget, my praise for it ends there. the budget we will be debating next week is to put it bluntly a cynical political document.
3:27pm
it is not designed to address our nation's pressing fiscal challenges, but rather it is designed to please the democratic base and provide a fresh supply of political talking points. rather than addressing our government spending problems and our runaway entitlements, the democrat budget contains yet more wasteful spending. in order to pay for that spending, the budget contains what could be around $1.5 trillion in tax hikes, much of which will necessarily impact the middle class and small businesses. it would hijack the bipartisan tax reform efforts currently under way in both the house and the senate by instructing the senate finance committee to abandon these efforts in order to score the tax code for additional revenues to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars. in addition to the reconciliation instructions, the budget includes potentially half a trillion dollars in additional tax hikes in order to replace a sequester and to offset more surplus spending. even with all these new revenues
3:28pm
in place, the democratic budget does not balance, not at any point. under this budget, the government would be spending more than it takes in at the end of the ten-year budget window, and by the end of it, all our national debt would be over $24 trillion, an increase of more than $7 trillion with no relief in sight. now, gross debt relative to the size of our economy never dips below 94% in this budget. as the nonpartisan congressional budget office warns, when the debt is that high, we as a nation have less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges. c.b.o. also warns that when the debt is that high, there is increased risk of a fiscal crisis and soaring interest rates. and, madam president, make no mistake, if interest rates rise even slightly more than assumed in this budget, federal spending
3:29pm
on interest payments would increase substantially, moving us even closer to a fiscal crisis. madam president, one of the most disappointing and disheartening parts of the budget produced by the majority in the budget committee is that it makes no attempt whatsoever to address entitlement spending. instead, it would keep programs like medicare, medicaid and social security on auto pilot, making it far more difficult to preserve them for future generations. let's just take a look at the numbers because they really are astounding. over the next ten years, we will spend $6.8 trillion on medicare, $5.9 trillion on medicaid and $11.2 trillion on social security for a combined total of $24 trillion. the democratic budget would reduce that spending by only $56 billion over ten years, which amounts to a minuscule
3:30pm
0.2% reduction. that's right, 0.2%. let's put that number in perspective. despite the acknowledgment of the administration, the nonpartisan congressional budget office and any sane analyst of the federal budget, the entitlement spending is unsustainable, the democrat budget proposes to do next to nothing about it. rather they settled for spending reductions over a ten-year period that amount to about five days' worth of federal spending. this lack of attention to entitlements sends a clear message to younger generations. that message, unfortunately, is we don't care that the social safety net will not be there for you. and it won't be for our young people, especially if we keep going this way. federal entitlement spending is the biggest driver of our debts and deficits, and absent realing structural reforms, these programs threaten to swallow up
3:31pm
our government and take our economy down with it. this is not rhetoric or supposition. madam president, these are cold, hard facts. yet, with their budget, the democrats have apparently opted to ignore reality and let these programs continue on their current unsustainable trajectory. on that trajectory, the safety net frays. on that trajectory, disabled american workers face benefit cuts of over 20% in 2016. and on that trajectory, trust funds associated with the safety net become exhausted. madam president, the course chartered by this budget is simply irresponsible. no one is -- no one serious about this would choose to cut entitlement spending for another ten years. even president obama has proposed as much as $530 billion in medicare and social security reforms.
3:32pm
this budget undercuts the president's proposal by nearly 90%. so once again, madam president, this budget is not about dealing with reality. it's about politics, pure and simple. instead of working with republicans on bipartisan solutions to our nation's problems, the democrats have decided to reveal their campaign talking points for next year. now there are some of us here in the senate that have been looking for opportunities to work with those on the other side to address what are, in the view of many, the defining challenges of our time. for example, january 1 i came to the floor to propose five bipartisan solutions to reform medicare and medicaid and asked my colleagues to work with me on this effort. these proposals are not my ideal solutions to the problems facing these programs, and said they are five solid ideas that have all had bipartisan support in the recent past. for example, i proposed raising
3:33pm
the medicare eligibility age, something president obama and several other democrats have at one time or another supported. i also suggest limiting medigap plans from providing first-dollar coverage in order to prevent overutilization of medicare benefits. this was supported by the simpson-bowles commission and was also included in the biden-cantor fiscal negotiations in 2011. another one of my proposals is to streamline cost sharing for medicare part a and part b. like the med cap proposal, this idea was supported by the simpson-bowles commission. in addition, i proposed eufpbt eufpbt -- introducing bidding into medicare for greater competition to improve quality of care. while some deemed this idea controversial, president clinton proposed a similar idea in 1999 as part of a major set of medicare reforms. president clinton no less. finally i proposed instituting
3:34pm
per capita caps on federal medicaid spending. this was another democratic party idea. it was first proposed by president clinton in 1995, and at that time all 46 democratic senators signed a letter supporting this very policy. like i said, i came to the floor in january in hopes that i could bring some of my democratic colleagues on board with these proposals so that we could at least start a bipartisan conversation on entitlement reform. my door and my mind remain taupe my colleagues across the aisle on these ideas. today as i look at this proposed budget, it is clear that i shouldn't be looking to anyone supporting this budget to work on anything resembling a bipartisan approach. indeed if this budget passes as is, without any significant changes, i may have to look outside of the senate entirely. that is why earlier today i reached out to president obama and asked him to seriously consider my five bipartisan
3:35pm
entitlement reforms. the president talks a lot about grand bargains and balanced approaches, and he was a very winning personality as he spoke to us republican senators today. the budget unveiled yesterday, however, is a step in the wrong direction. i hope he will demonstrate real leadership and engage on these enormous challenges in a meaningful way. madam president, the budget proposed by the democrats on the budget committee is fiscally irresponsible and will be detrimental to the current and future generations of american workers who depend on the social safety net and who want to see it preserved for the future. this budget grows government, not the private economy. this budget taxes too much and spends too much. this budget doesn't balance today, tomorrow, or ever. this budget keeps us at the edge of a fiscal crisis with no flexibility to respond to future emergencies. that being the case, this budget should be soundly rejected by
3:36pm
anyone who cares about our nation's future and about prosperity and opportunity for america's middle class. now, madam president, i'd like to take a few minutes to talk about the temporary assistance for needy families or tan f program. authority for tanf expired in 2010. since that time the program limped along on short-term extensions. president obama never submitted a tanf reorganization to congress for consideration. senate democrats who have been in the majority since 2007 have never proposed a reauthorization of tanf. instead of submitting a reauthorization proposal that can be considered in regular order on a bipartisan basis, the obama administration instead unilaterally granted themselves the authority to waive critical federal work requirements. federal welfare work requirements, that is. as i've said many times here on the senate floor, there is no provision in the tanf statute
3:37pm
granting this administration this authority. aided by democrats in congress, the administration has resisted any attempt to replace their waiver scheme with an actual legislative proposal. rather than trying to explain what specific policy improvements cannot occur under the flexibility states have under current law, the obama administration and democrats in congress have opted to issue a series of platitudes about state flexibility. in addition, they point to a letter delivered by the republican governors association, to majority leader frist in 2005 asking for more flexibility under tanf ignoring the fact the main focus of the letter was for floor consideration, hardly justification for unprecedented power grab by the executive branch. madam president, the senate finance committee needs to act on welfare reform. the tanf program has language
3:38pm
for nearly a decade without a robust debate on reauthorization. programs that benefit low-income families have suffered as a result of congress's inattention to tanf. the legislation before us contains yet another short-term extension which would ensure that the program will go through the rest of this year without a reauthorization. now this is simply unacceptable. the senate finance committee, which has jurisdiction over tanf needs to get to work on a full five-year tanf reauthorization. madam president, several times over the past few months i've come to the floor to argue in favor of regular order and in support of reinstituting the committee process. for two long now major policy decisions have been made not in the committees of jurisdiction but in the office of the majority leader. and as i've said, i think the results speak for themselves. now this shouldn't be the case. madam president, if we want bipartisan solutions, we need to
3:39pm
restore the deliberative traditions of the senate and allow the committees to do their work. for this reason, i prepared a motion to commit h.r. 933 to the committee in hopes that once the bill was moved to the committee we could roll up our sleeves and work on a bipartisan basis to strengthen the work requirement in tanf and give states the flexibility they claim they need while providing greater transparency, coordination and accountability. i understand that there is bipartisan process underway with regard to the continuing resolution, so i won't be seeking a vote on this motion today. but i want to personally praise the distinguished senator from maryland and the distinguished senator from alabama for the work that they've done on the appropriations committee. i'm really impressed. i think that they've shown the whole senate that things can be done if we just work together. and they are two of the great senators here in the united states senate. but that doesn't mean that i'm
3:40pm
relenting in my efforts to restore regular order here in the senate. i hope more of my colleagues will join me in this cause. and with that -- with that, madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:41pm
3:42pm
3:43pm
3:44pm
3:45pm
quorum call:
3:46pm
3:47pm
3:48pm
3:49pm
3:50pm
3:51pm
3:52pm
3:53pm
3:54pm
3:55pm
3:56pm
3:57pm
3:58pm
3:59pm
4:00pm
quorum call:
4:01pm
4:02pm
4:03pm
4:04pm
4:05pm
4:06pm
4:07pm
4:08pm
4:09pm
4:10pm
4:11pm
4:12pm
4:13pm
4:14pm
4:15pm
quorum call:
4:16pm
4:17pm
4:18pm
4:19pm
4:20pm
4:21pm
4:22pm
4:23pm
4:24pm
4:25pm
4:26pm
4:27pm
4:28pm
4:29pm
4:30pm
quorum call:
4:31pm
4:32pm
4:33pm
4:34pm
4:35pm
4:36pm
4:37pm
4:38pm
ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be vacated. and i further ask -- the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i also ask unanimous consent that the pending inhofe amendment number 29 as modified be agreed to and that upon disposition of the inhofe amendment, senator toomey or his designee be recognized to call up amendment
4:39pm
115. the presiding officer: is there objection to the request? without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president, we note that the gentleman from pennsylvania is coming to offer his amendment. while we're waiting for him to get ready to proceed, i would really like to thank senator inhofe, senator boxer and all who worked on a satisfactory resolution of this amendment. it shows that the senate takes a minute or two, keeps their powder dry, sticks to the issues, we can move this bill forward. we now look forward to a discussion on toomey 115. i note that the gentleman from pennsylvania is on the floor to offer his amendment. i now yield the floor. mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, i
4:40pm
call up amendment number 115 which is at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from pennsylvania, mr. toomey, proposes amendment number 115 to amendment number 26. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: yes. the senator from ohio. mr. brown: mr. president, thank you. i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment number 83. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i object. mr. president, in behalf of senator landrieu and myself, i object to the senator's request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mikulski: mr. president, before we proceed to the debate on toomey, i say to my colleague from ohio, a strong advocate for working people is appreciated. i really, from the standpoint of discussion, do not want to discuss. you've got some excellent ideas that i hope you and the gentlelady who chairs the homeland security subcommittee could talk about how we could
4:41pm
reach some type of consensus to generate jobs, retain the integrity of a workforce and keep our economy going and i salute you for the work you do every day in that area. mr. brown: i thank senator mikulski. the amendment would have struck the language. i'm offering it also with senator isakson; would have struck the language on the pilot projects that expire at the end of the year with privatization of customs services. it is something that i will work with senator lan tkraourbgs and i appreciate -- i will work with senator landrieu. it is about good public service and creating jobs and assisting with imports and exports. thank you. mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, let me briefly describe my amendment. this won't take very long, but i think it's an important movement in the right direction. it's come to my attention that the c.r. probably for a variety
4:42pm
of reasons underfunds the d.o.d.'s operations and maintenance accounts relative to what the army staff certainly has requested. actually to the tune of $2 billion relative to what the army staff would prefer. this affects salaries, vital maintenance, combat training. it affects both -- well, certainly skilled defense contractors, employees at our military facilities. obviously we have very significant maintenance requirements for the very sophisticated equipment that our troops rely on. and so this is a very, very important account. the operations and maintenance accounts also includes training exercises that helps make sure our forces are the best in the world. unfortunately, we also at the same time that we're underfunding this account, we're spending money on alternative energy at d.o.d. that is of very dubious value, in my mind.
4:43pm
we have much more affordable energy than the kinds of energy that we require the d.o.d. to use in some instances. and what this amendment would do would provide a modest transfer of $60 million from the d.o.d.'s account from the pentagon biofuels program and allow that money to go over to the operations and maintenance account. i know there are some people who are big fans of spending money developing biofuels and building plants and refineries that create these biofuels. i would point out this is a much more expensive source of fuel than alternatives that are ready liu available and i would ask -- that are readily available, and i would ask a basic question which is if we believe this is a good and appropriate activity, wouldn't it be better to handle it at the department of energy rather than take precious resources from our defense department and have it spent with the construction of plants for biofuel capability? i think it makes more sense to move this over to the operations
4:44pm
and maintenance account. that's what my amendment does. mr. president, i yield back the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the senator from pennsylvania, and i will raise a point of order at the appropriate moment, budget point of order, which will require an extraordinary vote on the floor of the senate. but i want to address the merits of senator toomey's amendment. senator toomey's amendment proposes to cut $60 million from advanced drop in biofuel production program in the procurement defense and move these funds to the operation and maintenance account. the senator has unfortunately, has an error in his amendment. he cuts funding from the wrong account. he has rewritten this several times, but unfortunately he is still cutting funding from the wrong account. that is an error which he may be able to resolve. the appropriations account that
4:45pm
would be cut by this amendment has nothing to do with alternative energy or biofuels. the account provides for funds for special operations command equipment, d.o.d. communications infrastructure and the chemical and biological defense program. this is a very serious mistake, and the creation of this amendment. new language added to this version tries to correct an additional problem with outlays but does not. the amendment still violates the budget cap on outlays and is subject the a point of order which i will make at a later time. this amendment offered by the senator from pennsylvania is posed not only by me but also by senator levin, the chairman of the armed services committee and of course senator mikulski, the chairman of the senate appropriations committee. let's address the substance of the amendment if it were drafted proper proply. the senate has already made it clear that it supports biofuels and ending our nation's dependence on foreign oil. we look at the challenge of foreign oil every time you drive by a gas station.
4:46pm
and you think to yourself how high can these prices go? they were knocking on the door of $5 a gallon in chicago a couple weeks ago. they've come down a little bit but they're worse in other parts of the country. you think when are we going to reach the point where we're not held captive by by opec nations and suppliers of oil? that's the impact we have as consumers in america. now take this into a theater of war. now it's a different story. you cannot manage and run our professional military without energy and fuel. and the price that we have paid to transfer fuel to the field of battle is dramatic. hundreds of dollars a gallon. not $5 a gallon. hundreds of dollars a gallon. because, unfortunately, if you're going to keep our men and women safe, you've got to fuel the vehicles. the vehicles that they rely on, whether it's the humvees or the tanks or whatever they're using, the airplanes, and
4:47pm
you've got to move the fuel to where they need it and you've got to move it now. and let me also tell you something. moving that fuel is not without danger. the first national guard unit i visited in iraq from my state of illinois was a transport unit. they were driving these tanker trucks. you think, well, these are soldiers driving trucks? they risked their lives every time they did it. that's where thed some ried bombs were -- roadside bombs were planted. when we talk about moving energy to the military we're talking about a life-and-death challenge and, unfortunately, many americans have lost their lives moving that fuel to the field of battle. what did the generation and secretaries in the pentagon tell us? we've got to take a look at energy consumption and find a way to have more fuel-efficient vehicles for our troops and find better sources for fuel. fuel that might work better in one theater of battle than in another. that's what they've asked for. and that's what the senator from
4:48pm
pennsylvania says no, we can't afford that. we shouldn't do that. we ought to cut the $60 million involved in this research. the senate voted twice on senator toomey's proposal, and they voted both times in support of the department of defense initiative, biofuels program. that was during the debate of the senate armed services authorization bill but no ideas ever go away in the senate. this is back again for the third try by senator toomey. i hope it reaches the same fate as the other two tries. the conference agreement that was reached after the department's authorization bill said that the departments of energy and agriculture to provide matching funds and due to budget constraints, they're not going to do that this year. however, the money that is appropriated for this purpose is going to continue to be able to be spent in other years, and the research can continue. why would we stop this? iwhy we say we're not going to o
4:49pm
the research necessary to find more efficient fuels, stop the research in more efficient vehicles that keep our troops safe and reduce the likelihood that the men and women in uniform transporting these fuels are risking their lives to do so, why in the world do we want to subject them to roadside bombs for the transport of fuels if we're told by the military they want to look at other options? why wouldn't we do that? well, sadly, the senator from pennsylvania just thinks we shouldn't do it. and that's why he's offered this amendment. the funds appropriated for this project are available until expended when other agencies are able to meet their own cost shares they will certainly be use pacific northwest the chairman. armed services committee, senator carl levin, agrees with me on this. there is no conflict between the defense appropriations and defense authorization committee. keeping the funds in this bill supports the senate's clear position on giving to our military the authority they need to protect our troops and to
4:50pm
lessen their need for using these energy sources. reducing d.o.d. energy costs and reducing the volatility of gasoline supplies are critical, critical to make sure that the best military in the world is the safest military in the world. the defense department is the federal government's largest energy consumer by far. the events of the arab spring and iran's continuing threats to deny access to the strait of hormuz demonstrate the security risk of relying on foreign oil sources. that is why this is a critical decision, it is a life-and-death decision to look to other energy sources. the senator may say we can move $60 million to operations and maintenance, i'm sure they need it, but they literally need much, much more than that. it is better we keep this research moving forward. a 2012 report from the congressional research service noted since the early 1990's the cost of buying fuel has neeched faster than any other --
4:51pm
increased faster than any other department of defense category, that includes health care and military personnel. between 2005 and 2011, the department's petroleum use decreased by 4% but spending on petroleum rose 381% over that same period of time. recall that we bought -- or paid for our wars under the previous administration on a credit card. part of that credit card charge related to the cost of fuel. a dramatic cost which we are still paying off. the defense estimates for every 25 percent increase in -- cent increase, it means an additional $1 billion in fuel costs. the $60 million for biofuels is such a small investment of the navy's annual cost for petroleum-based fuel, approximately $4.5 billion in fiscal year 2011, and an even smaller fraction of the navy's total budget of $173 billion.
4:52pm
$60 million in research against the navy's fuel costs of $4.5 billion? penny-wise and pound-foolish with this toomey amendment. this modest veavment is worth the potential of being able to provide a secure alternative to the national security risk of petroleum dependence. for the sake of reducing the cost of protecting america, for the sake of protecting the lives of men and women who serve our nation and risk their lives every day and depend on this energy and fuel, for the sake of at least being thoughtful enough to put money into research to find ways for more fuel efficiency and better sources of fuel, please vote no on the toomey amendment. mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: i would observe, i know there are people who are passion nationally interested in developing alternative energy. i would suggest there are
4:53pm
research facilities where that's probably appropriate. i suppose the department of energy might be a candidate. but the kind of biofuels generated cost far more than conventional fuels. we have a tremendous volume of conventional fuels and it's a savings to be able to use conventional fuels in this case my suggestion is this money goes to where it's vitally needed in the operations and maintenance accounts. but i would like to discuss with the senator from illinois a concern that he has about a budget point of order, so i'll observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:54pm
4:55pm
4:56pm
4:57pm
4:58pm
4:59pm